The Atlanta Hawks played without their top star Trae Young in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Finals series versus the Milwaukee Bucks but the question is how much differently would they look even if their star guard was available.
The Bucks came out firing on all cilinders as they took an early double-digit lead versus the Hawks. The Bucks, who were also playing without their top star Giannis Antetokounmpo, absolutely dominated the Hawks in the paint.
The Bucks led from start to finish and in the end claimed a 123-112 win to take a 3-2 lead in the series. "We knew that they were going to come with that sense of urgency tonight," Hawks head coach Nate McMillan said.
"They were going to continue to attack even without Giannis in the lineup. That's just how they play. ... They just dominated the paint tonight."
McMillan gave credit to the Bucks
"They were more physical," McMillan said.
"They hit us in the mouth, and we just did not recover from that. "They were aggressive. ... No defense on the ball, no defense off the ball, weakside help was not there. They were the more physical, more aggressive team from start to finish tonight."
Bucks center Brook Lopez finished the game with a game-high 33 points and seven rebounds. "I'm just trying to go out there and help my team however possible, whether it's playing that new, modern three-ball game, floor-stretch game or being inside," Lopez said.
"What's great about today is we were all basketball players playing together on offense and defense. We were playing off one another, making plays, making extra passes. It was a lot of fun tonight." The Hawks came out flat and never recovered from an early deficit.
"I don't know why we came out flat, but we did and it hurt us tonight," Hawks forward John Collins said. "[In] the NBA, sometimes stuff happens." The Hawks remain confident they could turn around the series.
"I know we are fearless, and I know we are tough," said Hawks guard Bogdan Bogdanovic, who had a second straight impressive game for Atlanta (28 points, five rebounds, four assists) and was arguably the team's lone bright spot.
"I know we'll respond." The Hawks will need to improve their defense in the pain if they want to stand a chance in Game 6. "They definitely got us in the paint," Hawks forward Danilo Gallinari said. "If we want to win a game, we need to definitely get better with that."